Cameron Dokey · 221 pages
Rating: (10.8K votes)
“For surely a king is first a man. And so it must follow that a king does as all men do: the best he can.”
“I will not fail,' the water bearer's daughter vowed. 'But worse than failing is not to try at all. For then there can be no hope of success.”
“Do you fear to lose me? Have I become so essential to you that you will treasure me always and never take me for granted?”
“A story can fly like a bee, so straight and swift you catch only the hum of its passing. Or move so slowly it seems motionless, curled in upon itself like a snake in the sun. It can vanish like smoke before the wind. Linger like perfume in the nose. Change with every telling, yet always remain the same.”
“And so, in their fear, Shahrazad and Shahrayar increased their own danger, though they did not do so knowingly. For, each in his or her own way, both looked in the wrong direction: not inward, but outward. In the moment when they needed to recall it, both forgot the first queen's prophecy.
Only by knowing what was in their hearts and being unafraid to have it known could all be made right once more.”
“Everyone in the world needs two, three jobs,” I said, without hesitation. “One job isn’t enough, just as one life isn’t enough. I want to have a dozen of both.” “Bull’s-eye. Doctors should dig ditches. Ditchdiggers ought to run kindergartens one day a week. Philosophers should wash dishes in a greasy spoon two nights out of ten. Mathematicians should blow whistles at high school gyms. Poets should drive trucks for a change of menu and police detectives—” “Should own and operate the Garden of Eden,” I said, quietly.”
“This story takes place a half a billion years ago-an inconceivably long time ago, when this planet would be all but recognizable to you. Nothing at all stirred on the land except the wind and the dust. Not a single blade of grass waved in the wind, not a single cricket chirped, not a single bird soared in the sky. All these things were tens of millions of years away in the future.
But of course there was an anthropologist on hand. What sort of world would it be without an anthropologist? He was, however a very depressed and disillusioned anthropologist, for he'd been everywhere on the planet looking for someone to interview, and every tape in his knapsack was as blank as the sky. But one day as he was moping alongside the ocean he saw what seemed to be a living creature in the shallows off shore. It was nothing to brag about, just sort of a squishy blob, but it was the only prospect he'd seen in all his journeys, so he waded out to where it was bobbing in the waves.
He greeted the creature politely and was greeted in kind, and soon the two of them were good friends. The anthropologist explained as well as he could that he was a student of life-styles and customs, and begged his new friend for information of this sort, which was readily forthcoming. ‘And now’, he said at last, ‘I'd like to get on tape in your own words some of the stories you tell among yourselves.’
‘Stories?’ the other asked.
‘You know, like your creation myth, if you have one.’
‘What is a creation myth?’ the creature asked.
‘Oh, you know,’ the anthropologist replied, ‘the fanciful tale you tell your children about the origins of the world.’
Well, at this, the creature drew itself up indignantly- at least as well as a squishy blob can do- and replied that his people had no such fanciful tale.
‘You have no account of creation then?’
‘Certainly we have an account of creation,’ the other snapped. ‘But its definitely not a myth.’
‘Oh certainly not,’ the anthropologist said, remembering his training at last. ‘Ill be terribly grateful if you share it with me.’
‘Very well,’ the creature said. ‘But I want you to understand that, like you, we are a strictly rational people, who accept nothing that is not based on observation, logic, and scientific method.’
‘"Of course, of course,’ the anthropologist agreed.
So at last the creature began its story. ‘The universe,’ it said, ‘was born a long, long time ago, perhaps ten or fifteen billion years ago. Our own solar system-this star, this planet, and all the others- seem to have come into being some two or three billion years ago. For a long time, nothing whatever lived here. But then, after a billion years or so, life appeared.’
‘Excuse me,’ the anthropologist said. ‘You say that life appeared. Where did that happen, according to your myth- I mean, according to your scientific account.’
The creature seemed baffled by the question and turned a pale lavender. ‘Do you mean in what precise spot?’
‘No. I mean, did this happen on land or in the sea?’
‘Land?’ the other asked. ‘What is land?’
‘Oh, you know,’ he said, waving toward the shore, ‘the expanse of dirt and rocks that begins over there.’
The creature turned a deeper shade of lavender and said, ‘I cant imagine what you're gibbering about. The dirt and rocks over there are simply the lip of the vast bowl that holds the sea.’
‘Oh yes,’ the anthropologist said, ‘I see what you mean. Quite. Go on.’
‘Very well,’ the other said. ‘For many millions of centuries the life of the world was merely microorganisms floating helplessly in a chemical broth. But little by little, more complex forms appeared: single-celled creatures, slimes, algae, polyps, and so on.’
‘But finally,’ the creature said, turning quite pink with pride as he came to the climax of his story, ‘but finally jellyfish appeared!”
“What’s with me? I demanded space, right?”
“He pulled me by my shoulder. The change in angle allowed his long thick cock to reach parts of me that were never meant to be touched. My vision darkened, and every beat of my heart fought the constriction in my chest. I went beyond pleasure, into some realm where sensations worked like a creature eating me alive. All I could do was suck in air through my gaping mouth and pray I wouldn’t pass out.”
“I admit to a feeling of pride that my father had saved the day yet again, although I also thought that nothing would have been better for me personally than for the mullah to force my father's departure within the hour. Either way, I know now that nothing would have stopped my father from his Jihad. If he could not remain in Afghanistan, he would go to Pakistan. If Pakistan pulled the welcome mat, he would go to Yemen. If Yemen threw him out, he would journey to the middle of the most hostile desert where he would plot against the West. Violent Jihad was my father's life; nothing else really mattered. Nothing.”
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